We thank Forum contributors Grace Chua Siew Hwee, Melissa Lim Yingli and Tan Yuqing, for their feedback on school mergers (Instead of merging schools, use some as test bed for ideas; Smaller class sizes preferable to more CCA choices; and Histories, sense of identity lost, all April 12).
The Ministry of Education’s (MOE) commitment is always to provide our students with the best possible overall educational experience and learning environment.
School mergers are difficult decisions, and occasionally, we have to make these necessary adjustments to respond to changing demographics in our mature estates.
In particular, enrolment tends to fall in mature estates in line with the ageing population in these estates. In contrast, enrolment tends to rise in new housing developments due to the demands of young families.
Therefore, school planning at the town and regional level helps us determine how best to meet such demands by, for example, merging schools or occasionally, relocating a school if the plans for building a new school campus can be made when school mergers are being considered.
Some have commented that students in a low-enrolment school can benefit from smaller class sizes. But MOE’s approach is to look at the deployment of teachers based on the overall needs of our education system. In other words, more teachers will be deployed to schools that have a higher proportion of students with greater learning needs.
This will enable our students who need more learning support to be taught in smaller classes in these schools, and not just because they happen to be in a low-enrolment school. Such a needs-based resourcing approach is more equitable in ensuring that students who need more help will get the support they need.
More importantly, when enrolment for a school is too low, students will not enjoy the same holistic range of learning experiences as their peers in other schools, in terms of subject combinations, educational programmes and co-curricular activities.
These are critical aspects that contribute to the vibrant and holistic educational experience we want for every student.
We are mindful that school mergers can be disruptive to staff and students. MOE will therefore continue to deliberate carefully on the need for any future school mergers. Where we need to merge schools, affected schools and their students and staff will be fully supported, to ensure a smooth transition while retaining the rich history and heritage of both schools through the cohorts to come.
Lim Boon Wee
Deputy Secretary (Services)
Ministry of Education